The only way (as of early 2013) to get to the Big Island from Honolulu is to fly, either on an interisland flight or on a charter flight. Some airlines fly directly to the Big Island, and some go to Honolulu Airport first and either connect you to the Big Island or expect you to find your own way. This could cost you anywhere from $50 one-way to over $100 one way, depending on how early you book and how busy the day is.
Two Airports on the Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii has two airports:
Hilo International Airport (ITO) located in Hilo
Kona International Airport (KOA), also called Keahole Airport, and located just North of Kailua-Kona.Stopping in Honolulu
Flying Direct to Hilo or Kona on the Big Island
Major interisland airlines that fly into Hilo are Hawaiian Airlines and Go! airlines. As of early 2011 there were no carriers from the mainland that fly into Hilo. ATA did for a year or so but no longer.
Airlines that fly into Kona are: Hawaiian Airlines, go! airlines, American, Delta, and Northwest. The easiest way to figure this out, in my opinion, is to go to expedia and check their fare compare by just searching for your flight. They will bring up a table that tells you all your options and show you all connections, so you know if a company goes straight into Kona or not.
So what’s cheaper, flying direct, or a stop in Honolulu?
Well, let’s see. I’ll make some simple queries at some of these airlines and see what I come up with. Right now is a good time to search – prices have been holding steady for a couple of months and there are no current big price fluctuations or promotions or rushes due to high travel or spartan seats. We’ll do searches from Oakland, California (hilo) and LAX, Los Angeles (kona) for a baseline price in May (two months from when I am writing this), a wednesday to a wednesday.
Note – Be sure and see my page about the cheap flights to Hawaii strategy.
*** These are sample prices, they WILL be different when you search!
Fly Direct to Hilo
American, United, and Delta are all $549 direct to Kona. If you check Hawaiian, they will only take you through Honolulu to Kona and that is $597.
The Cheapest Airport to Fly into in Hawaii is … … in my opinion it is Honolulu (but that’s on Oahu). It used to ALWAYS be Honolulu Airport because there weren’t flights direct to the other islands, but that has changed and sometimes you can get lucky. So be sure to check (or check here at Hawaiian).
Summary – So, flying direct sometimes gets you cheaper fares if you can get it. Plus, that flight from the west coast to Kona is a nice one. Just the last hour is a bit bumpy.
Use a fare comparison engine like Expedia’s for easy compares.